Why is the US national security Establishment – the CIA, the FBI, the Dr. Strangeloves – engaged in open warfare against the President? Why, ever since well before Trump’s stunning victory, has the political class done everything in its power to destroy him? We’ve never seen this kind of thing before – at least, not so out in the open. Certainly there have been internal power struggles and plenty of palace intrigue, but this kind of left-right near unanimity, coupled with the brazen activism of the “intelligence community,” is unprecedented. The full institutional power of the Deep State is being deployed to overthrow a democratically elected chief executive – not in some Latin American banana republic but right here in the good ol’ USA.
Why is this happening?
Here is why, and if you click on the link you’ll find the answer:
“President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to threaten to withdraw US troops from South Korea if he can’t get a better trade deal with Seoul.
“In a fundraising speech in Missouri, Trump told donors South Korea had become rich but that American politicians never negotiated better deals, according to audio obtained by The Washington Post and confirmed to CNN by an attendee.
"‘We have a very big trade deficit with them, and we protect them,’ Trump said. ‘We lose money on trade, and we lose money on the military. We have right now 32,000 soldiers on the border between North and South Korea. Let’s see what happens,’ Trump said.
“The President went on to argue, ‘Our allies care about themselves. They don’t care about us.’”
The South Korean Finance Minister, Kim Dong-yeon, found this upsetting:
"‘We don’t think it’s ideal to link an economic issue with such an issue [the withdrawal of US troops],’ said Kim, while speaking on South Korean TBS radio.”
This linkage is, indeed, the missing link that is always absent from ostensibly libertarian critiques of Trumpian trade protectionism. Well, yes, it’s quite true that tariffs are taxes, that they hurt consumers – i.e., everyone – and benefit only a few producers at the expense of the rest of us. Yet these libertarian critics never mention that we are also paying for the defense of our trading partners, a gigantic subsidy that is an essential part of the deal we make with our Asian and European protectorates. In exchange for giving, say, South Korea unobstructed access to our markets, Seoul essentially gives up its sovereignty by allowing US soldiers to occupy the country.
Trump rightly derides this arrangement as a bad deal, and he is right about that – although you won’t hear his libertarian critics give him credit for this insight for the simple reason that they are often indifferent or even hostile to the noninterventionist critique of “collective security.” They drop the context of American imperialism as a system because they support institutions such as NATO and have jumped on the new cold war bandwagon.
They have this in common with the national security wing of the “permanent government” which is avidly trying to oust Trump. The self-appointed guardians of the “international order” are not going to allow this White House to dismantle what they have spent so many years, so many tax dollars, and so many lives building up: an empire that limns the old British imperium. They simply cannot tolerate a US President who is capable of even raising the possibility of withdrawing from the Korean peninsula: that is beyond the pale as far as they are concerned.
That’s the reason why we are seeing this unprecedented campaign against a sitting President. Trump threatens their whole system and the worldview it is based on. He is playing out his role as the Great Disruptor while the political, economic, and bureaucratic interests that are behind the sclerotic cold war era status quo look on with horror. Yet this anti-Trump fifth column, operating inside the government, is hardly powerless: they can be counted on to do anything and everything to stop Trump, from leaking classified information to launching a phony investigation into Russian “collusion.” However, he keeps outflanking them: the latest is the strong possibility that the North Koreans will soon release the three Americans they have been holding.
Are you tired of winning yet?
Many of my readers were shocked when I wrote favorably about Trump during the 2016 election, and some continue to not get what I’ve been saying for well over a year, but I was right about this unlikely President, and the naysayers were wrong. The proof is the upcoming summit with Kim Jong-un – an event that no one thought would ever occur, and yet it’s real, it’s happening, it’s now.
The outlived conflicts of yesteryear – the detritus of the really awful twentieth century – continue to rise up like ghosts, haunting our present and standing in the way of peace. Yet Trump seems to have the vision and the boldness to bat them away and inaugurate a new era, despite everything. He is the Great Disruptor who is challenging the conceit at the core of US foreign policy: the idea that it is somehow in America’s interest to police the world and enforce the rules of the “liberal international order.” Whether he has the stamina to succeed remains to be seen.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.